Sunstone is a five part graphic novel series by Croatian artist and writer Stjepan Sejic.
Allison and Lisa are both into BDSM. They meet on an internet forum dedicated to the subject. Then they meet in real life. And no, they do not meet for a coffee.
Allison is a domme in search of a sub. Lisa is a sub in search of a domme. When Lisa arrives at Allison’s house, the fun and games – literally – begin.
It doesn’t take long, however, for problems to begin. Allison and Lisa meet as friends; friends who have a particular ‘kink’ and want to explore it with each other. So far so good.
Very quickly, however, Lisa starts falling in love with her mistress (aka ‘Allycat’ as Allison is known on the internet). For her part, Allison falls in love with Lisa not long after that. So far so normal. The only problem is, they don’t tell each other. The five volume series explores the consequences of their reticence in ways that are sometimes comic, sometimes sad, sometimes silly, sometimes bad. If you stick with the series until the end of Book Five, however, you will walk away from it with a glad heart.
I won’t say out loud how Book Five ends but put it this way, if Richard Curtis wrote a story based around a BDSM relationship, he would have written Sunstone. Don’t snarl at me – that’s a compliment; I love Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love, Actually and Sunstone has the same gentle heart, good humour and happy spirit as all those’ films.
Of course, it isn’t exactly like them. It’s about BDSM, something that probably doesn’t exist in Richard Curtis’ fictional worlds. On that point, should you buy the graphic novel, be mindful: Sunstone is very graphic in its portrayal of BDSM practices (that sounds far too clinical. ‘BDSM sessions’ is a better way to say it). Unless your domme (or dom*?) tells you otherwise, you might not want to read this on the bus or underground.
Having said that, don’t go away thinking that Sunstone is vulgar. It isn’t. Quite the reverse, in fact. Although Allison and Lisa get up to things that may seem wholly outré, Sejic’s very evident respect for his characters stops the story becoming merely pornographic.
If anything, Sejic likes his characters too much. I certainly thought this when, halfway through the series, he revealed the ultimate conclusion of their relationship (the story is told by Lisa and takes place five years (?) in the past).
Against that thought, he implies how Allison’s and Lisa’s relationship ‘ends’ at the start of the first book so you could argue that the story isn’t a will they/won’t they stay together as friends/become lovers but an exploration of how they arrive as — well, what we know or at least can guess them to now be from the start.
Anyway, Sunstone was a good, fun read and I highly recommend it. You can read the series as a simple love story (if love is ever simple) or use it as a springboard into a discussion of deeper issues or morality. Either way, it is a very rewarding work.
*I am assuming that in BDSM dom = dominator (male) and domme = dominatrix (female). Let me know if I am wrong
Sunstone Vol. 4 cover: Comixology
Sunstone Vol. 5 front cover: Red Comics